A Quick Guide To Visiting The Hot Springs In Thermopolis, Wyoming July 10, 2019
There are several mineral hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming that make visiting the town entirely worthwhile.
Thermopolis takes its name from the mineral hot springs for which it has been known.
Throughout the region’s history, several Native American tribes have laid claim to the mystical “smoking waters.”
Not only do the hot springs feel relaxing, but also over 20 different minerals in the water are known for their medicinal healing powers.
Boasting the largest mineral hot spring (by volume), the town attracts thousands of visitors each year eager to soak in one of a handful of hot springs.
Each hot spring has its own pros and cons. So before you arrive, let us help you decide which mineral hot spring in Thermopolis is best for you!
Reviewing The Mineral Hot Springs In Thermopolis
All 4 hot springs in Thermopolis are located within Hot Springs State Park.
So to begin your journey to soak you’re going to have to make your way into the park on the northeast corner of the town.
The “Big Spring” is the headwaters for each of the 4 mineral hot springs in Thermopolis.
Every day approximately 3.6 million gallons of water flows upward through the spring at 120+ degrees Fahrenheit.
You cannot soak in the Big Spring. But it feeds the other 4 hot springs in Thermopolis.
With its spiraling water slides, Star Plunge is by the most recognizable hot spring in Thermopolis.
It is also the most popular hot spring for families visiting during the summer as there is a balance between the parks relaxing features and its fun features.
Star Plunge has a large indoor and outdoor pool, both directly fed with mineral water.
Each pool is also accompanied by a small “lobster pot” hot tub.
The temperatures in these are slightly higher and bubbles add to the relaxing feel.
Inside you will also find a mineral springs steam room and a fast indoor water slide.
Outside is where most of the fun takes place.
The large outdoor pool features a deep end with a high jumping board (no diving allowed), a smaller kids slide and a spacious deck with dozens of lounge chairs.
You can also climb up the stairs to ride down the big slide.
Bring your own float or pool noodle or rent one from the shop and enjoy a relaxing or rambunctious day on the water!
At $12.50 for all-day access (9AM – 9PM) you could easily make a day out of your visit to Star Plunge.
Why Visit? (Pros): This is the most kid-friendly hot spring in Thermopolis. Families enjoy it because it provides fun for the kids while also allowing relaxing places for the parents.
Maybe Not Your Type? (Cons): If you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxing option then you’re going to want to pass on visiting Star Plunge.
There is no way to escape the sound of kids at Star Plunge. So if you want to go where the locals go to escape the rambunctiousness, you’re going to want to consider Hellie’s Tepee.
You can see Hellie’s Tepee from far away as its roof is donned in a golden tin.
And while Hellie’s Tepee doesn’t offer as much thrill and entertainment as Star Plunge, for this very reason it is the hot spring in Thermopolis where most of the locals go.
Hellie’s Tepee features most of the same general features as Star Plunge but without all (most) of the noise.
Inside the tepee you will find several pools and spas that vary in size and temperature. There is also an indoor slide to enjoy.
Outside is another slide and a small pool.
But unlike Star Plunge, Hellie’s seems to focus more on your overall health and well being than the entertainment side of the hot springs.
The park features both a wet and dry sauna. And you can also schedule to have a massage during your visit to Hellie’s Tepee.
Admission to Hellie’s Tepee is also $12.50 for a full day (9AM – 9PM) access to the hot springs.
Why Visit? (Pros): If you’d prefer a quiet and relaxing soak in the mineral hot springs then you’re going to enjoy Hellie’s Tepee.
You won’t have nearly as much noise and commotion as at Star Plunge. Plus you can alternate your time between the two saunas to help detox your body in between soaking.
If you want to visit the hot springs in Thermopolis for their health benefits, Hellie’s Tepee is the best option for you.
Additionally, if you will be in the area for a while you can purchase discounted passes for extended periods of time.
Maybe Not Your Type? (Cons): You still have to pay $12.50 to soak at Hellie’s Tepee. And while that is comparable to Star Plunge, it can still add up especially if you have a small family.
And if you do have young ones that need to get some energy out, this isn’t the best option for you.
So if you’re looking to save a little cash and/or boost the entertainment for the kids while still benefiting from the healing powers of the mineral hot springs in Thermopolis then maybe you should give the Athletic Club at Day’s Inn a try.
Days Inn Athletic Club
The Days Inn hotel features its Athletic Club as a benefit for overnight guests. However, it also opens its doors to the general public for a small fee.
The hot springs at the Days Inn is definitely a “no-frills” option. It is essentially a concrete hot tub approximately 5 feet wide by 20 feet long.
It has two benches that run along the side and the option to have bubbles on one side.
There is a smaller tub with hotter water which feeds the larger one.
Temperatures range between 101-105 degrees Fahrenheit in the larger tub and can reach around 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the smaller tub.
But with your admission to the Days Inn Athletic Club you also have access to a swimming pool.
Balance the heat of the hot springs with a refreshing dip in the pool. Or let the kids get some energy out in the pool when they get tired of the hot tub.
At $5 per day for non-guests (free to hotel guests) this is both economical and provides access to the same mineral-rich hot springs as the other options in Thermopolis.
You can also schedule to have a massage during your visit to the Athletic Club.
Why Visit? (Pros): If you’re staying at the Days Inn you might as well visit as it is included in your room fee.
But if you’re not staying in the hotel, this is a great way to focus just on the health benefits of soaking without all of the other distractions.
The “no-frills” approach to the spa means that you can alternate between soaking in the spa, swimming in the pool and resting in the sunshine to your heart’s content.
Days Inn also has the best views from the spa as it overlooks the Bighorn River and has a nice view of the nearby mountains particularly at sunset.
At $5, this is also the cheapest option for private hot springs in Thermopolis.
Maybe Not Your Type? (Cons): There is little to no excitement in soaking at Days Inn.
So unless you also want to enjoy the pool or perhaps work out in the gym, you’re not going to find much more benefit than the minerals in the water themselves.
If spending $5 for a full day is still pressing on you, your final option is to enjoy a 20 minute soak at the Hot Springs State Park Public Bath House.
Hot Springs State Park Public Bath House
The Native Americans that handed over Thermopolis negotiated in the treaty that all people should have free access to the hot springs located in the park.
And while Star Plunge, Hellie’s Tepee and Days Inn have all benefited by diverting some of this mineral water to their own private hot springs in Thermopolis, there is still FREE access to the springs in the Hot Springs State Park.
Every guest to the Public Bath House is entitled to soak for FREE for 20 minutes per visit.
When you arrive you simply sign in to either the men or women’s sheet and make your way to the corresponding changing rooms.
When you exit the changing rooms you can soak in the indoor hot spring or make your way to the outdoor pool.
Both pools are very modest in comparison to Star Plunge and Hellie’s Teepee.
But the same mineral-rich water that flows into the other pools also flows into the Public Bath House.
Why Visit? (Pros): If you’re traveling on a budget then this is your absolute best option for a quality soak in a mineral hot spring in Thermopolis.
While each guest is entitled to 20 minutes per stay, there is really no definition to how many times you can soak in one day.
So in effect you can soak just as long here as in any other hot spring.
Maybe Not Your Type? (Cons): There are no frills to soaking in the Public Bath House pools. And the hours will also limit your ability to soak (8AM – 5:30PM Mon – Sat, 12PM – 5:30PM Sun).
Deciding in which mineral hot spring in Thermopolis to soak isn’t the most important decision you will make in life.
But if you are wondering which hot spring will give you the most bang for your buck, here’s a quick summary to help you decide.
- Do you have kids? Consider Star Plunge or Hellie’s Tepee.
- Do you want a quiet experience? Consider Days Inn or the Public Bath House.
- Do you want to save money? Consider the Public Bath House or Days Inn.
- Do you want to have full-day access to come and go? Consider Star Plunge, Hellie’s Tepee or Days Inn.
- Do you want to have access to a swimming pool? Only Days Inn offers this option.
- Do you want to schedule a massage alongside your soak? Consider Hellie’s Tepee or Days Inn.